After at least 26 members of the City Council last week signed a letter telling retail giant Walmart and its owners’ family foundation that donations from them to organizations in the city are not welcome, several charitable groups that receive the contributions were quoted in the media as saying they have no intention of returning the funding.
“We will not give the money back, nor should we,” Joel Berg, executive director of the Coalition Against Hunger, told the New York Post. “Our determination of whether we ask for and take money is not how the company earned the money, it’s how they want us to spend it. In this case it’s on progressive values. Never has it been tied to any public-policy agenda.”
The Council members who signed the letter, including many from Queens, claimed in it that Walmart and the Walton Family Foundation are helping to “bankroll the privatization of public education,” referring to their financial support of charter schools. The letter also cited the company’s support of “conservative organizations” acting to undermine the signatories’ progressive agenda. But it did not mention contributions given to groups such as the Coalition Against Hunger, City Harvest and NY Women’s Goodwill Industries of Greater New York. The Walmart Foundation says it gave $3 million to nonprofits in the city last year, and it will continue to.
Asked for a response, Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said in a statement that the charities should seek funding from other businesses whose workers do not say they violate wage laws and provide inadequate benefits.
“Decades ago when I founded the Queens LGBT Pride Parade, the organizing committee made the decision to turn down sponsorship money from cigarette companies,” Dromm said. “I believe organizations that receive funding from Walmart should do the same.
Some Council members disagree.
“Partisan politics should never stand in the way of helping organizations that serve some of the neediest New Yorkers,” said Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park).
The members who oppose Walmart’s charity don’t want it to open a store here.